Pig Play: Driven by Emotion, Inspired by Tears

Pig PlayPig Play: Driven by Emotion, Inspired by Tears
Guest Post by Wade Orscheln

In the last few days I have been inspired not by a paid motivational speaker, not by my boss, not by a famous person or athlete, not even by an adult, but by the great youth we have in agriculture.  The last few days I have found myself running back and forth from home to Sedalia trying to watch my FFA students exhibit their livestock at the Missouri State Fair. Which reminds me that I must thank my principal for letting me out of those beginning of the year teacher meetings so I could attend these shows.  These kids give me hope in our future.  They showed me a passion and drive I thought that had been lost in our American youth.

Maybe I’m becoming soft with age, but several times during the youth swine show I found myself drying my eyes.  I got to witness a blind young man with the help of a friend who served as his eyes exhibit the 4-H reserve champion barrow.  I watched as his friend embraced him with a big hug.  The smile on his face and the tears in the eyes of the crowd was priceless.  I just wish for a moment he could visually see how great his duroc barrow really was.  I wish he knew how motivational he was.  He didn’t just show the 4-H reserve champion barrow but showed the world that a disability doesn’t have to disable.

I got the opportunity to listen to a judge speak before selecting the youth show overall champion barrow. He spoke about, that what was going on in the swine barn that day wasn’t about the livestock at all, that it was about the kids in the show ring.  After his speech I witnessed a young man get the slap that every livestock exhibitor dreams of.  That slap that the judge gives your animal when choosing the grand champion. Instantly the young man wrapped his arms around the judge and broke into tears. These tears were tears of joy and passion. Continue reading “Pig Play: Driven by Emotion, Inspired by Tears”

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4-H – Showing Us the Future

Support 4H (3)

Ravyn showing in the ring.

It’s county fair season and the 4-H kiddos are showing us the future leaders and providers for our communities. My husband grew up showing hogs and cattle in the 4-H livestock shows and selling them at the auction to raise money for his future farming endeavors. It has clearly worked out, as we now have over 200 head of cattle and raise thousands of turkeys every year.

We are proud  and excited to support the 4-H tradition. Our county fair is held the weekend after 4th of July each year. It is always HOT and it always rains at least once. The 4-H Livestock show and other competitions are held on the first day of the fair. Starting at 7:00 a.m. members put a year’s worth of hard work on display.

Support 4H (5)

Kila showing her hog.

4-H members show steers, hogs, sheep, and poultry. Some show their workmanship in competitions for sewing, arts and crafts, photography, painting, pottery, woodworking, metal working, gardening, and other trades. Ribbons are awarded based on the successfulness of their projects and showmanship. Blue ribbons continue to be the coveted prize of choice. In the livestock show, presenters hope to be crowned Grand Champion. The Grand Champion is the choicest animal in the competition and usually brings the highest price.

Those that earn blue ribbons in the non-livestock competitions have the opportunity to move on to competition at the State fair. It is quite an honor.

Showing a fair animal starts a year in advance. The animals are selected when they are young so that the presenter has plenty of time to feed, care, and train the animal for showing. These fair animals become a part of the 4-H member’s family (almost), as they are a daily part of the presenter’s life. This is a powerful practice for developing future farmers and a strong understanding of dedication and hard work. After feeding, grooming, and practicing showing, the presenters often send out or deliver invitations to people in the community inviting them to bid on their animal. It is a terrific lesson in marketing and confidence for these young people. As the animals are judged, the livestock judges explain to the exhibitors and audience the qualities of a champion animal. (It’s a livestock learning experience for everyone.) Continue reading “4-H – Showing Us the Future”